Life's not fair


Matt Paust

Matt Paust
Gloucester, Virginia,
December 31
Sorry - writer's block... BTW the "birthday" listed above is false. I prefer to keep that day private, but am not permitted to do so here, so I'm forced to lie.


FEBRUARY 9, 2013 9:31PM

Hemingway Test – 24 (Shaping news)

Rate: 10 Flag

Trueblood and Secord were still on the Beltway when Trueblood's smart phone interrupted their reverie. It was Doris.

C'mon back. Bart says the redhead's already talked with the wife.”


She's got the interview on tape. Wants to play it for you.”

Thanks, Doris. We're on our way.” Trueblood stuck his phone back in its holster, ending the adrenalin rush of the hunt.

Secord's face was blank, his smile having slid south as he guessed the gist of Trueblood's phone conversation. “Change of plans?” he said.

Trueblood nodded. “That TV reporter. The redhead? She's already interviewed the widow. Has her on tape.”

No road trip, huh?”

Not this time. We'll see what she has.”

Wouldn't it look better if we could say we already had the interview?”

It would that, Joe, but we don't. Let's find out what she's got first.”

Secord looped back at the nearest crossover, and they returned to D.C.


At the White House, Trueblood and Secord checked in with Trueblood's secretary before going their separate ways. Secord went to his office and Trueblood headed down the hall to the next suite, where the TV reporter awaited him in Gladstone's office. Cleared to enter by Gladstone's receptionist, Trueblood nonetheless hesitated at his boss's door, reluctant to interrupt the animated conversation he heard on the other side. When it seemed obviously frivolous, with occasional feminine ecouragement teasing oily charm from Gladstone's basso profundo, Trueblood decided enough was enough and rapped his knuckles against the frosted glass.

Abrupt silence. Then the familiar bark, “Harry!”

Trueblood pushed open the door and observed behind the desk the large visage of his boss exuding an uncharacteristic bonhomie, face flushed and the corners of his bass-wide mouth twitching grotesquely upward. A wiry orange cloud peeked up from the back of one of the two upholstered chairs facing the desk.

Gladstone made as if to rise doing the introductions. Leaning forward, he swung a meaty arm toward the chair and announced in a voice frothing with unwitting irony the presence of “Miz Charlotte Remora, Washington's number one television personality!”


The orange cloud lifted into view and turned toward Trueblood, revealing a mildly flirtatious smile in a creamy, freckled complexion. She was standing when he reached her and took her hand, struck dumb by her startlingly bright green eyes.

Contacts,” she said, laughing. “They're a costume accessory. My real eyes are pretty boring.” Indeed, he noticed, she was wearing a forest green pantsuit tailored to flatter her small but well-proportioned figure. Overall, the impression she presented was pleasing, which, Trueblood knew, was all the more reason to be wary. His vigilance sharpened as he watched the reporter's video of her interview with Frances Lancaster, widow of the man who shot himself after his erection wouldn't go down.

So for the first couple three days it was party time, ya know? Oo, I mean what's got into this man! Just wouldn't stop! Then the fun sorta wore out, ya know?

Charlotte asked her what she meant by that.

Well, I started gettin' sore, then he was gettin' sore, a-and, well, he was gettin' wore out! Runnin' outta gas, ya know? And so he started sleepin' in the spare bedroom. And he had ta go to the employment agency and he was too embarrassed ta go. Ya know?

She said he was depressed when he came home from the emergency room and told her nothing they tried would work for very long.

Five ten minutes and then right back up. He jis started cryin'. I never seen him cryin' before. Not like that. There he sat with a big ol' woody cryin' his heart out. And then I come home from work the next night and...there he was on the floor...I found him layin' in a pool of blood on the garage floor...

Charlotte waited until the widow's sobbing trailed off before asking her if she knew what might have caused such an unusual problem. The two men shot an anxious glance at each other before concentrating hard on the flat TV screen.

Caused what?

Well, the erect..., the woody. Didn't, um, Butchie participate in that research at Wilde Laboratories?

Wild what?

Well, there was a book a couple of years ago that talked about the research, that some of those who participated had the same problem as Butchie. You know...

  Don' know whatcher talkin' about, Miz Remora! Butchie din't have no problem in that department, lemme tell ya. He wasn't in no research neither! Leastwise nuthin' he tol' me about!

Well, OK, so what do you think caused it then?

Well, all that damn sodie pop he was allas drinkin'. Couldn't get enough of it. I tol' him to leave that [bleep] alone!

I'm sorry. Did you say soda pop?

Yeah. That new stuff. That Chill®. I couldn't stand the [bleep]. They said it had some weird stuff in it. That's what give Butchie the dam woodie! We seen it on the nooz. Not you, honey! One o' them other nooz shows. Ya know, the ones come on after the real nooz is over.

Gladstone pointed a remote control device at the screen and clicked it off. “What the hell?” he blurted, sounding genuinely perplexed. He and Trueblood gaped at the reporter, who merely shrugged.

“Sorry, boys. That's what she said. I was hoping Harry might give me a statement, considering what's already been reported about Chill® and those rumors at the time.”

“He will like hell, Miz Remora! You think you can waltz in here, into the White House, with garbage like this and try to use us to boost your ratings? You've just sandbagged us here, and I'm gonna ask you to leave, right now!”

Trueblood held up a hand. “It's alright, Bart. This lady didn't tell the widow what to say. She played it straight, and we have nothing to hide.” Turning to Charlotte, he said, “Of course I'll give you a statement. You want to do it on camera? Is your crew here?”

“They're at the shack. Thank you, Harry. Bart, I'm sorry it looked like I was trying to pull something, but Mrs. Lancaster caught me completely by surprise. I thought that comes across in the interview.”

 Recovering quickly, Gladstone forced a smile and nodded agreement. “I'm sorry, too, Charlotte. I guess I overreacted. My apologies, but you can see how sensitive this issue is, how easily it could be misinterpreted.”

He grew grim again when Charlotte left to escort her camera crew to Trueblood's office.

“What the hell you gonna say? On camera? I think you're making a mistake, Harry.”

“Nah. Perfect opportunity to release the lab results. It'll lead the news, all day.”

“Yeah, but just because Primrose Lane® was in the drinks doesn't prove Wilde Labs had anything to do with what happened at that school.”

“My wife said the same thing this morning, Bart.”


“So it gives us a chance to bring Wilde Labs into the discussion, officially. You can't buy that kind of publicity.”

“I guess you oughta know.”

“I do. We're good, Bart.”

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And who ever said Public Relations wasn't a "hard" job. R
Perks some people right up, Trudge, so I hear.
Strong and real expression of motive in dialog, Matt. R
Looks like a bout of the flu has actually zipped up your writing skills. This was a good segment, one of my favorites. The dialogue was pitch perfect as always. Especially the hilarious interview with the sore widow!

The descriptions of people , rather than things or locations or etc (which you also do well, certainly) truly caught my attention & admiration ( i.e. envy):

“occasional feminine encouragement teasing oily charm from Gladstone's basso profundo…” or Bart “exuding an uncharacteristic bonhomie, face flushed and the corners of his bass-wide mouth twitching grotesquely upward…”

This one is your masterpiece, I keep telling you. The third person narrative seems to have freed you to shift not only setting and situation but also give your readers a more salient understanding of not only the characters , but the goddamn plot, which is growing complicated & confounding (in a good way) in the usual Paust style.
Consider photos? Or not? Difficult question...
you want to leave it up to the reader to imagine, but
today's readers need visuals, i think.
Especially of flirty redheads.
apparently they weren't able to close the coffin either
Thanks, Sam. Glad it still works.

Gave me more time to ruminate, Jimmy. Thanks. Maybe I'll move the photo you pasted on the other site to here. You're right, graphics are becoming de rigueur.

Probly had to use a hacksaw, J.P. Unless that's where he shot himself.
clearly I have missed a great deal, Matt. This one has me laughing pretty good this morning. haha. Fun to peek at the trouble you're causing...:-) r~
Hi, Emily! I'm also posting this on Our Salon. All of the segments are there. Thanks for dropping by.
Ive heard Mountain dew has the same effect as that Chill stuff donggonne it
Thanks for the warning, Linda! ;-)
What?! Now I'm not funny *and* 'marginally literate!?
J.P., maybe you've blundered into the wrong thread? Then again, maybe it was an open-coffin burial!
If it's Sunday, I hope I slept through Meet the Press.
Be sure to miss the awards show tonite - Golden Globes or something?
Well, if you know what I mean, it's good to keep an ear to the ground.
Although my preconceived notion (great, trust me) is that it is impossible to go beyond Jodie Foster's soliloquy when she got that life time achievement award on that last big shew.
I think I'm off for a flu shot--just to be touched. Got whiskey?
Got the shot, then got the flu. But a month between events, so I can't blame the shot. Whiskey helps.
Is this something new? a sequel to sacrifice? or another name change? since my return I haven't had time to catch up.
[r] and [w] for wow!! good job, my friend. a great compelling read! more more more! best, libby
Hi, Arlene! Yup, this is a sequel to Sacrifice. Here's a link to Chapt. 1

Thanks, Libby. Glad it works for you!
wow, you are the everlasting bunny writer. Going again, and 'grats on that!
Thanks, Abby. Good to see you!
Matt, I have a lot of reading to do with you. Thank you for this!!!